Broadband News TMIAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced 14 awards in 8 states totaling $20.3 million for projects to bring broadband to unserved rural communities. In announcing the awards, Vilsack stated: “Access to broadband is one of the most important investments in rural communities today. These awards will help create jobs, and give rural residents greater access to educational, health care and social services.”

These are the first awards made under the Community Connect program’s new guidelines that now allow applicants to fund broadband infrastructure for more than one community, and raise the minimum required speed. Projects funded must deliver broadband at five megabits per second (Mbps).

The granted broadband awards are for:

  • North Dakota / BEK Communications Cooperative / 2 projects totaling $6,000,000
  • Oklahoma / Medicine Park Telephone Company / 4 projects totaling $4,233,000
  • Alaska / Matanuska Telephone Association, Inc./ $2,941,246 grant
  • Tennessee / Scott County Telephone Cooperative / $2,607,000
  • Texas / Texhoma Fiber, LLC / 2 projects totally $1,841,000
  • Kentucky / Crystal Broadband Networks / 2 projects totaling $1,184,840
  • South Carolina / County of Orangeburg / $1,009,565
  • Nevada / Arizona Nevada Tower Corporation / $442,468

The interesting parts about the grants are the free services that the grantees will provide back to the communities. Some of the grants will permit the creation of community centers or critical community facilities where all users will have access to free service for at least two years. Other grants fund broadband service builds offering 20 Mbps+ speed for Residential Customers and 100 MB speeds for Business Customers. Finally, the most interesting grants are the 2 Kentucky grants that deploy high-speed broadband that will allow access to real time weather radar and national weather updates to address severe weather conditions.


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